Friday, August 21, 2009

Held by Hooks and Hitachis

Few years back, I got to do my first hook pull. Large gauge needles are placed in the chest; it’s through enough tissue to hold them in place just fine. The hooks aren’t gonna pull out; the piercings are rich and deep. Once the piercings are in, a 3-4’ length of cord is tied to the loops at the ends of the hooks.

It was my first time. Fakir & CM Hurt (out of LA) were the piercers; I had some history with CM, so I went with her. Her modowrk is amazing, and her spirit is vibrant, full of dark humor and huge love. Cleo DuBois was a major ka-see-ka (‘experienced guide’) for the trip. I was ready. I have a history of doing intense things with my skinsuit, and I figured this to be right up my alley.

I waited in line, held by my lovers G&S, safe in the arms of blessed community. Some of my other Detroit peeps were there, and it felt tingly and scary and bubbling with potential. It was like filling up your gas tank right before you head out to Burning Man, your vehicle loaded with gear and tribe.

The piercings hurt—for about a minnit. Of course it hurts! You’re poking 10 gauge hooks into your chestmeat. But then…oh, but then. I fell more deeply in love with my endocrine system in that moment than I’d ever been before. The drum sounds rippled through my skin; it was as though the new holes, tight as they were wrapped around the metal of the hooks, had opened me to the rhythms. The drumbeats and low chanting danced right into my skin along with the hooks.

Each of us—there were about 20 participants in this ritual if I recall (all bets on recall are off after the hooks go in because of the sudden, immediate and dramatic priority shift that occurs when you break through the boundary that most people believe separates us from one another) moved gingerly, finding our places in the pain, in the sounds, in the room. I can’t tell you how many people were holding space or just watching; from here, it seems like lots but I admit, it could have simply been all the angels in the room. There was presence.

After everyone had been pierced, whatever it was bubbling and brewing in that circle spilled over. The holes in your chest don’t just let things in—they let things out, too. Maybe it was the leopard print sarong I was wearing, flavoring my experience, but I transformed. I was wild, feline, joyful, wounded, perilous and ecstatic. I learned by doing who it was that I wanted to hold my cord, who it was I wanted to trade cords with, who it was I might be willing to tug on.

When we had reached a certain level of transformation, of energy building, Cleo danced her way into the middle of the circle with a large metal ring, a rattle and a Hitachi. She beckoned us to her. We went. Using carabineers, Cleo hooked each of our cords to the large metal ring. We stood around the ring, unable to be more than 3-4’ from it. It got more and more crowded. We had no choice but to touch each other, to find a way to comfortably stand and sway without falling down or knocking someone else over. We cooperated instinctively; that was my first proof that humans can cooperate instinctively.

Then Cleo began to play with the center ring. It was a circus of sensation; she vibed the ring with the Hitachi, and we all sighed and hummed with one voice. She lifted up; we came to our toes, laughing, moaning. She crouched down; we bent towards the source of sensation, chuckling and crying.

And then everything stopped. It was like someone had hit the mute button on my experience. I didn’t hear drums or people or moaning or chuckling. All was still. In that stillness, that silence, I realized:

No matter what we did, we were connected. If one person took a deep breath, someone on the other side of the ring felt it. If someone moved sideways, we all went sideways. There was nothing--not a laugh, a sob, a twitch—NOTHING—that didn’t reverberate through the ring and into everyone else attached to it. It was undeniable, inescapable. We were all connected. Yeah, yeah, I know I said that. But dig it: WE ARE ALL CONNECTED. In that moment for me, there was no difference between that center ring and the whole of my world.

The hooks left my flesh later. I remember falling into a puppy pile of warmth, embrace, magical adoration. My puppy people left later, when I went back up to my room to bathe (this is also when I learned to never schedule a session for immediately after a hook pull. Silly me). The dried blood around the hooks left as I sank—slowly—into the warm water.

What never left, and still hasn’t, is that knowing of connectedness. For me, it took hooks to have that ah-HA. I don’t know what it’ll take for you, or for the rest of the world. But I do know that it is a knowing we must all come to. And soon. The illusion that something as fragile as a skinsuit somehow makes us *separate* from each other is ridiculous. It’d be downright funny, if that illusion didn’t cause so much fucking pain in the world. Even though we can’t always see it or feel it, we are, at all times, connected to each other that way. Not just the people we want to play with, or to family and tribe. Everyone. We’re all hooked into the web; someone thrums a string in Sri Lanka, and we feel the ripples of it in our own skin. We turn away from someone in anger, and we yank on other people’s spirits. We’re just too small-sighted to notice the depth, breadth and scope of our connectedness.

Hook in, people. Hook in. Find your own way of experientially knowing this Truth of connection. Choose wisely whose cords you tug on, and to whom you hand your own cord. And then come dance your truth with me. I’ll be waiting with the Hitachi.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I Went to an I-Scream Social

I live in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. Nestled in the crook of the mountains, caressed by breath from the sea, bundled up in fog come summer and deluged by rain the rest of the time, we Humboldtians relish our isolated, rural community. Only two roads in: 101 north/south, and 299 east. Both are twisty, mountainous journeys that make you feel like you’ve earned the beauty by the time you get here. You can fly in, too, but you can’t always land. It’s almost like the sentinels, the semper virens, pick and choose who gets to come in and who doesn’t. We live in the Emerald Triangle, in the Red wood Empire, behind the Redwood Curtain.

We have a respectable (up til recently) university, one of the highest per-capita artist populations in the state if not the country, a few bars, some churches, a community college, and a particular economic structure with rarified local industry. Snoop Dogg plays here regularly, at the Vet’s hall, charging almost 100$ a ticket and passing trash bags through the audience, soliciting Humboldt donations. There’s magic here.

And not a lot to do on a Saturday night. Sidewalks roll up around midnight, leaving thrillseekers some pub action and maybe some exotic dancing (if you’re in Eureka or are willing to ‘drive into town’).

I’m kinky. I live in Humboldt. I like to go kinky places, do kinky things, see kinky people, chat up kinky stuff. In a place like this, that means creating community, something I’ve been involved in for as long as I’ve lived here (19 years this month). From working with small, house-meeting groups to working with organizations that host classes and events, it has been my privilege to serve my community in some delicious ways.

Saturday last I attended a Social hosted by The Impropriety Society (HumboldtImps.com), which followed classes taught earlier in the day by BusDriver and Pink (fabulous Bay Area cousins who came north to share their playful spirits and useful information). Our local Munch (run by Master M & salve Kelly; visit eurekamunch.org), sponsored by our local intelligent and sexy purveyor of pervy delights, Good Relations (http://www.goodrelationseureka.com/), arranged for the classes; the ImpSoc hosted the Social. We’ve also had the great folks at MedicalToys.com teach and support the community. Socials are smaller events that happen once a month, with large events happening in the general vicinity of Halloween and Valentine’s Day. Socials sell out at 75 tickets, and the larger events sell out at 200-300, depending on venue. No, it ain’t the Citadel, but it is our shining bastion of pansexual, kinky, poly-supportin’ cross-dressin’, hard-playin’, good lovin’ impropriety that some of us require in order to have sane, healthy balanced lives.

Since the area’s so small, we don’t really have the population to support a huge variety of specific splinter groups (the one exception to this seems to be gay men, who have their own community up here but don’t come play with the rest of us nearly often enough). The benefit to this is an exquisitely diverse community. If we want safe places to play, we must work together to create them. We cut a wide swath of freakliness in which we all try to support each other and get along. I’ve seen the hardcore D/s couple frolicking right alongside some folks playing strip Hokey-Pokey. I’ve seen riggers & flying right next to a plush pile of people. I’ve seen spanking alongside medical scenes and bellydancing in the background. I’ve seen a tiny little kitty rhythmically playing the bum of an adorable cross-dressing kitten; I’ve pummeled pals with boxing gloves while watching predicament bondage between blows. I’ve been offered brand new, untouched fresh meat (I hope they come back!) and we’ve got old dogs like me, who’ve been at this for a while. We have noobs, novices, naughtys, notoriae and most everything in between, all managing somehow, sometimes even with grace, to coexist and co-create.

We’ve worked hard to get here, all of us, from the folks who started the first ‘guerilla sex theater’ group to its present incarnation, the Humboldt Impropriety Society. Three women run the Imps; they bust hump to bring these things off (sometimes we even get to thank-spank them!). Our community sports a volunteer spirit that warms the heart, even on the foggiest of days (and they’ve been known to stand guard at the outer entrance at 3 am in 40 degree rainy weather, too). We have our Impresses, we have volunteers that impress, and now, having attended a party equal to those I’ve attended across the country in major venues with all sorts of splendid players, I’m renaming our place.

I hereby dub Humboldt County (and surrounding areas) The Redwood Impire. In our Impire, there is frolic, laughter, cries of pain, squees of delight and dismay. There is rope, leather, satin and skin. Within our enclave there is safe haven for the respectful freak of every stripe, spot and pelt; there is education for the seeker of new knowings. There is camaraderie, commiseration, construction and collaboration. We have art days, where folks gather to create visual stimuli to be used at events (I’m still impressed by the 7’giant fabric-mache penis & the 5’ yoni). To be fair, there is also the familial bickering and social distress that comes with being part of a small, ever-so-slightly incestuous community where everybody thinks they know who and what everybody else is up to. I admit, it does get tough, figuring out how to hold members of the community who move from one phase of their lives to another, all within the community sphere. And I still wouldn’t trade it for the world.

I am Impressed; I hope that this model of cooperative education and support is Impspirational. And yeah, I do mean to Imply that we’ve got a thing goin’ on up here that’s just as fine in its own way as anything I’ve ever seen anywhere else. The greatest Impasse for most is just getting up the gumption to come; once they arrive, they find we’re not Imperious or Imperiling but rather Impish, waiting to Impclude them in our community. We’re about Impowering folks, not Imprisoning them (although I do recall a cage with wheels that had a cutie in it that I got to ride around on and a blowjob I got through the bars of a cage from someone with the prettiest mouth I think I’ve ever seen).

So if you’re ever in our neck of the woods, stop by. We welcome Imports, Impresarios, the Impractical and the sexually Impoverished. Feeling Impotent? Come hang out with us; we may not have a cure, but you sure as hell won’t be bored here in the Redwood Impire.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Blackberries, Blood & Bottoming

It’s been an action-packed couple of weeks; things are settling from adventures, and writing resumes! I’ve missed you!

Blackberries are evil, insidious, invasive, mean, nasty, cruel, barbarous creatures. Why do we endure them? Some would say, “Because killing them is impossible;” others would say, “Because of the fruit.” I do like the fruit. A fresh blackberry, right off the vine, tastes like our gentle, coastal breezes mixed with sunshine and sugar. It comes in your mouth, and you like it. You lean down and look for more. The risk of pain is worth the reward of flavor.

Here in our little bit of Humboldt that we like to call M’skeetah Holler, we have blackberries. Lots and lots and lots of blackberries. They are like a usurping, unwelcome occupying force and they are resource gluttons. With all that a blackberry bush has going on, I’m surprised that it has any energy left to make fruit. Canes there, runners here, thorns everywhere. It certainly is productive and efficient.

Just outside my morning window, where I like to sit and merge into my day is what I call my ‘fishbowl,’ a small, enclosed area that makes me feel like I’m all by myself, out in nature. I have elegantly, whiffly jasmine, sweet, fragrant honeysuckle and some gorgeous basket and bird’s nest ferns. Hummingbirds and monarch butterflies come to taste the butterfly bush and pink teacups; spiders weave webs for me at night that glisten with fresh mist in the morning sun. It’s la luxe verte.

I sit in the morning and look out into my fishbowl, watching the creatures pollinate things and dine on nectar (and sometimes each other). In spring, I watch the ferns unfurl a bit each day; in fall, I watch the berries to see if they’re ready today? Today? Today? Lately, there’s been this ginormous blackberry cane moving steadily westward, from one side of the bowl to the other, and I’ve witnessed it grow by inches each day. It bothers me. And it has friends.

Meanwhile, my jasmine isn’t as productive as I’d like. I enjoy having it in such a state that if I open my window, nature’s best air freshener just wafts right on in, tickling my nose with happy. But the blackberries are taking up too much resource for the jasmine to flourish. This bothers me. Yes, all living things have the right to, well, live, but as custodian of my little patch of dirt, it’s my job to make decisions about these things. And then act on them. Today, I decided to do something about my botherdness.

Too hot to work in long sleeves (a thermal event uncommon in Humboldt), I went out to tend my bowl in a tank top & jeans. I knew it’d be a tradeoff.

If I were a plant, I might be a blackberry: Persistent, tenacious, successful, well-equipped for its job, fruity, mean, sharp and (if I anthropomorphize just right), sadistic. I swear, I can hear them chuckling as they pull on my pants like a sugar addicted toddler in the treat aisle at Costco begging for “suuma doze cookies, Mama!” They snortlaugh and act like it wasn’t them when they untie my shoelaces, but I know they’re watching to see if they can get me to faceplant. They laugh outright when their tender caresses produce fine welts that begins to trickle red, the same shade of red as an almost-ripe berry. It’s eerie, how much their laugh sounds like my own when I wear thorns and welt people.

Did you know that you can use some of the long and supple thin runners from a blackberry bush for bondage? And some of the thick, thorny canes make great canes (single person use, please). Yeah, go ahead and wince and maybe make the teeth-sucking sound; it’s appropriate.

But I digress.

Everything that didn’t have fruit on it, I cut. This year’s crop of berries already looks magnificent, and I know that if I get the plant to put its resources where I want them, the berries will be even sweeter and more plentiful. I’m crafting for a swell harvest. Meanwhile, I free up the jasmine and get the honeysuckle more light so that they can be abundant, too. And all it cost me was a little blood and aggravation. Small price to pay, really.

An hour later, I’m almost hot and definitely cranky. I trip over the hose (partially because my shoe’s untied), the vines won’t let go of my gloves (but will leave thorns in them), I have as much schmeg in my hair (despite wearing a do-rag) as my shaggy dog gets when he’s anywhere near redwood duff and I’m covered in dirt, dead leaves, pokes, nicks, scratches and a gouge or two. I have bottomed to the blackberries and, right about now, I hate my top. I chose my top today, and nobody to thank—or blame—for that but me. It isn’t about the top; it’s about what I bottom to showing me about where I fall short. Today my fallings short would be in patience, endurance, and band-aids.

I’ve bled for my blackberries. I’m hoping that’ll make ‘em even sweeter, because each scratch, poke, and thorn gouge represents a blackberry that I am going to eat the hell out of come early Fall. Cobblers, wine, confit, maybe some preserves: all those berries will be mah bitches then, and I’ll remember that bottoming to them got me there, to that sweet juiciness I do so enjoy.